Brittany Stories and Tips

French Toilets and Urinating au Nature

British travelers have considered the provision of public toilets in France to be a laughing matter for years. There are a small number of areas in which the British can feel superior….OK I can’t think of any at the moment....how about motorway service stations….anyway, we have better public conveniences. Can anything new be added to a subject that has been reported on for decades? No. In a way it is like wife beating or road deaths – we know it happens but it’s not news. But this is no excuse for tacit acceptance of the unacceptable. Two examples of this national inadequacy can be found on the otherwise excellent French autoroute system. Two types of rest station (aire) can be found – one in which there is a picnic area and toilet facility and the other where there is a petrol station, restaurant and toilet. In both cases the toilet facilities are in our experience somewhere on the scale from woefully inadequate to affront to humanity. In some cases, the service stations have art galleries, excellent shops, excellent restaurants, playgrounds for children and in one case a constructed wetland. However, it seems like the job of designing the toilet facilities is an afterthought rather than a priority – which it is for me when I am desperate and have three desperate children by my side. We resorted to pulling off the autoroute and urinating in the open air up country lanes.

Top tip:
Our favourite French service station is the Baie de Somme near Abbeville on the autoroute between Calais and Le Havre. It has a viewing tower with great views across to the estuary of the River Somme to St Valery and Le Crotoy. It has a wetland that you can walk around and a good playground and picnic area. The toilets get busy on holidays…

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